A Candychan Plot: Part One
Androcles and his "sidekick" are Candychans who like to get up into all sorts of mischief, as previously see in stories like A Zombie-fied Candychan Tale, A Candychan Adventure, and others.
Androcles stretched in the bright sunlight, as he exited the Ice Caves and he eyed the rustle of activity on the top of the Mountain.
"Oy," he called back to me, where I was lying still at the top of the Caves in our hiding place. "Stop pretending to sleep and come out here. I have a plan."
I made a big show of grumbling and yawning, but in reality, I had been awake for a while now. Stopping on my way out, I glanced at my reflection in the walls. My chocolate color was as rich as ever, and my whipped cream wings looked particularly fluffy today. Some days, it's good being a Candychan. What other being is this good looking?
Moseying my way out, I joined the Snow Candychan. I nudged him and finally asked, "What are you making me do today?" I kept my voice dull, like he was putting me out and forcing me to do something I really didn't want to do, but in truth, he was usually pretty entertaining.
He didn't bother to turn around, but simply called out over his shoulder, "I'm thinking about visiting this guy I know on Mystery Island. Remember when we went there?"
I frowned. We had visited the small island fairly recently, but I don't recall us having enough time to visit anyone.
"How did you meet someone there? We were there for, like, less than an hour," I questioned.
I heard an audible sigh, before he responded. "Just because you didn't stop to chat to anyone doesn't mean I didn't."
That seemed reasonable enough. For one thing, Androcles was the sort to just talk to someone randomly, and then decide to later visit them. Plus, when we were there, I didn't keep that close of tabs on him. I had been pretty distracted by the wonder of the Cooking Pot.
"Who are we visiting?" I asked.
"His name is Killian. He's an Island Candychan. Nice guy," he said. "So, you're coming along?"
I didn't bother to answer, because he knew that I would. We hung out most days, and most things between us were unspoken, but understood.
"Are you going to be okay?" I asked. Last time we went there, the sudden change of climate from the cold of Terror Mountain to the warmth of the island was a bit hard on Androcles. Not that he melted; Snow Candychans get slimmer, but they don't melt.
He seemed to be done ogling the scenery, as he turned around and nodded. "Yup! While you were lazing around in bed, I did some test runs and got a feel for the weather. I should be fine."
With that, we kicked off from the ground, unfurled our wings and headed south. We chatted a little bit, throwing jokes, and he told me a bit about this Candychan we were on our way to see.
We danced through the air over the clear blue waters, and true to his claims, Androcles seemed to take the change perfectly fine.
Peeling through the air over Maraqua, we smiled down and waved at the citizens. Generally, neither Androcles nor I cared much for Neopians, but the Maraquans seemed like they were in a giant bowl, incapable of bothering us, and that meant they were okay.
I was enjoying the breeze, so the green palms came into view far too soon. Nonetheless, I was interested to meet this individual Androcles seemed keen on seeing. Avoiding the beach, because it took Androcles far too long to pick out all the sand out last time, we landed by the Cooking Pot. Considering this is where we spent most of our time last time, it seemed the best place.
"I think he lives over there, by the Rock Pool." Androcles pointed.
Something seemed strange, though Androcles clearly hadn't noticed.
"Where is everybody?" I asked him. "Don't pets like to line up to toss things in the Pot? Or you'd think there'd at least be some playing Gadgads over there."
He glanced around, in such a way to suggest he was clearly only indulging my needless worries, and shrugged. "Perhaps Mystery Island isn't a popular vacation spot anymore. Let's go."
We trudged over to the edge of the island, and did a little hop-fly across the water to land to the left of the Rock Pool. Androcles led the way to an area behind one of the large stones and in a small circle of palm trees where we found a small Candychan curled up.
We both stopped at the edge of the clearing, and I whispered to Androcles, "Uh, is that him?"
Before he could answer, the Candychan turned around; apparently, I'm not very quiet when I whisper.
"Androcles?" the Candychan called out.
"Heya, Killian!" Androcles put a hand behind his head and smiled awkwardly. Dealing with sad people is difficult.
The Island Candychan ran up to us, and exclaimed, "I'm so glad you're here! Oh, and this is...?" he gestured toward me.
"My sidekick," Androcles said vaguely. "What's wrong?"
Killian jumped into a quick tale. "My pet Debonti, I can't find him. And I did some investigation, and none of the petpets have seen their owners recently. It's been a couple days, and I'm really worried. You can't trust pets to take care of themselves."
We both nodded – while no self-respecting Candychan would ever be owned by a pet, and thus be considered a petpet, they did own pets occasionally, and pets needed to be closely looked after. Plus, from what little Androcles has said about Killian and his owner, Debonti was a nice enough Coconut JubJub.
"Maybe we can fly over the island and see if we can see anyone," I suggested. "We can go together."
"Actually," Killian hesitated, "I'd like to stay here. Just in case he comes back."
Androcles and I gave him a quick grin, and then rose into the air. Mystery Island was small and usually had a lot of visitors, so it shouldn't be too hard to see at least one individual. However, that didn't seem to be the case.
Androcles pulled to a stop in the air. "Is it just me or is there no one on the island?"
I rolled my eyes, but didn't bother to state that I had actually noticed that first. That wouldn't be helpful. "Let's go see Jhuidah. Maybe she knows what's going on."
Floating down, we stopped by the Cooking Pot again, looking for the faerie. While I had noticed that there was no line for mixing items, I hadn't bothered to look for the faerie before. And now that we were standing here...
"Where's Jhuidah?" I asked Androcles and turned to face him.
His charcoal eyes were large, and he was backing slowly away from something I couldn't see. Walking around the Cooking Pot, to get a better view, I looked down and saw it.
"COCKROACH!" Androcles half squealed, half screamed.
He leapt into the air and kept a wary eye on the offending bug. Following suit, I rose into the air and took a careful look around. When we first came to the island, I had been looking for pets, not a bug that was smaller than me. And now that I had the chance, I realized the island was crawling with the miniscule creatures.
"They're everywhere." My voice suddenly dropped to a whisper. "Why?"
Androcles gulped visibly, and shook his head. "Killian."
Understanding, I followed him through the air to return to the clearing so we could ask the Candychan about it.
We arrived quickly, and found Killian in the same spot he had been previously. We gave him a quick rundown of what we saw, considering saying, "There aren't any pets, but there are a ton of cockroaches," doesn't take very long.
After Androcles finished with his usual dramatic embellishments, we waited for an explanation from Killian. Something, anything to explain the reasoning behind this grotesque intrusion.
"Well, you know," he frowned, "a few days back, before Debonti disappeared, there was this odd flash of light, and it knocked me out for a little while. I checked with the other Candychans on the island, and they experienced the same thing, but we all seemed okay. However, since then, no one has seen any pets."
All three of us plopped onto the ground, after carefully checking for any bugs, and started to think. After a couple of minutes, a very reasonable and obvious thought occurred to me.
"You know, the flash of light? It kind of seems like something a giant ray would do," I gestured, and they both nodded. "And the only place with the equipment to do something like turn all the pets into cockroaches would be Virtupets."
Killian gasped, but Androcles nodded. "That seems to be what happened, I think."
"But why?" Killian asked. "And why only pets? Why didn't it affect us?"
I shrugged, and Androcles declared proudly, "That's what we're going to find out!" He turned to me, and I nodded. Again, one of those unspoken things.
"You'd do that for me?" Killian seemed impressed.
I laughed. "No, he's doing it to be a hero."
Androcles added, "Yeah, honestly."
To be continued...